If he wins the presidency, Donald Trump will be pushing 71 upon taking the oath of office and therefore our oldest incoming commander-in-chief.
Hillary Clinton will be 69, the same age as Ronald Reagan when he was inaugurated.
I’ve got them by a few years, but these people are my contemporaries, and, perhaps, yours.
Friends, here’s a question: How many out there want to be commander-in-chief?
I’ll answer for myself: No way.
Though in passable shape and — no matter what the children suspect — adequately present of mind, I have no interest in a job that would require starched shirts, shined shoes and occasional conversations with Vladimir Putin.
Can you imagine deciding issues of homeland security at breakfast instead of existential questions regarding Cheerios vs. Raisin Bran? No doubt there would be need to exit pajamas before noon, and I suppose those leisurely, late afternoon “lunches” at Panera would be out of the question.
That’s just the start. Rather than worry about the next colonoscopy, you’d be fretting the political equivalent from adversaries on Capitol Hill — and without anesthesia. Naptime would be spent reading briefing books on defense appropriations. Arthritic knees would grant no reprieve from jogging around the White House grounds or playing shortstop in the staff softball games so as to prove robust health.
During the election campaign, I have watched Trump and Clinton with astonishment.
Night and day, the candidates were on the road, or in a television studio, or working the rope line after a rally, or, in general, inexhaustibly selling themselves to the public. I thought back to employment interviews earlier in life and how I felt after: zapped, depressed and ready to chuck the whole idea.
Not the intrepid seniors, Trump and Clinton.
“Can you believe these people?” I say to my wife, Wink, when, on TV, Trump greets an audience with his trademark thumbs-up sign or Clinton takes a selfie with an admirer for what must be the millionth time. “I’m outta gas just watching them.”
And — you know what? I don’t care if Trump and Clinton have big bucks.
Money doesn’t spare you creaky joints, swollen ankles or assorted bathroom urgencies. I don’t care, either, if Trump seeks rest and recuperation in the gilded confines of his Fifth Avenue tower or Clinton at her estate in ritzy Chappaqua. That they have been able to roll out of bed every day for months and hit the campaign trail again — wow.
Myself, I am without political ambition, should anyone be interested, although the possibility of elected office has been raised.
“You should run,” one of my two middle-age sons said on a long walk several years ago.
“Yes,” I said. “And perhaps you should consider a career as rodeo cowboy or space explorer.”
But he was serious.
“You like to talk to people, you have an opinion on just about everything, and you are frighteningly full of pep,” answered my son.
I was in my early 60s at the time and a newspaper reporter. A new career as school board member or town councilman did not seem in the cards. My son, no doubt envisioning himself as campaign manager, had even higher expectations.
“You can never tell,” he said. “Town clerk today, leader of the free world tomorrow.”
OK, it is true that I often speak to strangers — gas station attendants, bartenders, phone solicitors offering chimney cleaning services — and, yes, I tend to express myself expansively on issues of the day, and even now have a measure of physical health that might serve well if I began hiking door-to-door in search of support.
But, not a chance.
Trump and Clinton can breathe easily. The field is theirs.
At this point in life, I am declining all bids. I am not prepping for debates, learning to read from a teleprompter or pretending to enjoy sweet corn ice cream with bacon-caramel sauce while trolling for votes at the Minnesota State Fair.
Instead, I am going to stay in sleepwear as long as I like. I am going to eat lunch while watching the evening news if that strikes my fancy. I am going to pretend that my hearing is on the fritz when anyone offers opposition to my brilliant views on life and current events. Leader of the free world? Fellow Americans, count me out.